In modern Chinese, a new degree adverb shén 神 is emerging. Expressions such as shénhăochī 神好吃 and shényǒuqù 神有趣 are found in colloquial Chinese, and they even appear as headlines to get readers’ attention. Shén originally refers to the dominator and creator of the universe. In modern Chinese, along with the original meaning, people frequently use shén to modify things (e.g., shén jīyīn 神基因) or actions (e.g., shén huí 神回). How many senses does shén have? How did shén derive the use of degree adverb? The paper targets on shén in modern Chinese, aiming to study its senses, to work out the relations among the various usages, and to find out how it generated the use of degree adverb. The conclusion shows that the senses of shén were derived from its original meaning either directly or indirectly through reanalysis, inference, metaphorization, and metonymization. The use of degree adverb was generated through metaphorization and reanalysis.
Anttila, Raimo. 1989. Historical and comparative linguistics, 2nd edn. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
Brinton, Laurel J. & Donna M. Brinton. 2010. The structure of modern English: A linguistic introduction. John Benjamins Publishing Company.
Fries, Charles Carpenter. 1952. The structure of English. New York: Harcourt Brace.
Kuo, Jing-Yun. 2006. Jiaguwen zhong “shen” zi de chuxing ji qi yongyi [The form and meanings of shen in oracle bone inscriptions]. In Guwenzi Yanjiu [The study of ancient Chinese characters] 26. 95-100. Beijing: Zhonghua Shuju.
Lakoff, George. 1987. Women, fire, and dangerous things: What categories reveal about the mind. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Lakoff, George & Mark Johnson. 1980. Metaphors we live by. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Liu, Xiaofan. 2008. Chengdu fuci “tǐng” de yufahua [Grammaticalization of degree adverb ting]. Xiandai Yuwen [Modern Chinese (Language studies)] 30. 26-27.
Traugott, Elizabeth. C. 1988. Pragmatic strengthening and grammaticalization. Proceedings of the Fourteenth Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistic Society, 406-416. Berkeley, CA: Berkeley Linguistics Society.
Traugott, Elizabeth. C. & Richard B. Dasher. 2002. Regularity in semantic change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Wang, Su-zhen. 2007. Feichang de yufahua guocheng [Grammaticalization of feichang]. Langfang Shifan Xueyuan Xuebao [Journal of Langfang Teachers University] 1. 29-31.
Yang, Rong-xiang. 2005. Jindai hanyu fuci yanjiu [The study on adverbs in contemporary Mandarin]. Beijing: The Commercial Press.
Zhao, Jun. 2006. Ji de yufahua, kebuxing he xiangduixing [The grammaticalization, complementation and relativity of Ji]. Yuwen Xuekan [Journal of language and literature studies] 12. 112-114.